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Discussion Starter #1
I’ve had my 1978 Spider for a couple years now, driven it a bit and loved every mile but unfortunately it’s been one repair after another. I love the car, the history and experience of driving it, but I want to do more of that, drive it, and less repairing.

For that reason I’m, like the title says, swapping a 2.0 for a 2.0. I’ll stumble my way through it and draw inspiration from others who have done the like before me (Keven’s s2000 swap from 18yrs ago is a regular reference for me).

I apologize now to the purists who are undoubtably not impressed with this move. But for those like me, hopefully there are some useful pieces in here for anyone else interested in going down this rabbit hole. I’m a couple months into it at this point and will do my best to chronicle the process and provide the story from start to finish. I’ll share thoughts and ask for input, post lots of photos; if it gets to be too much, let me know. I’ve always found photos helpful when referencing build threads. I’ll also post some backstory on what I did with this car before landing on this idea.

So, all that said, here we go...
 

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that it needs much repairing is not ok. But that has nothing to do with bad Alfa mecanics, but bad work or neglect with previous owners (or, hate to say, maybe current shop also?) I do not know what it isthat breaks down , but having our spider since around 1997, it has be something outside the car... in those years: a new clutch, 2 new hoods, reconditioned rear axle , a new brake master cylinder and a set of shocks. And regular stuff (suspension bushes , brake pads,etc) during normal maintanance.. Not bad for a car build in 1980
 

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I apologize now to the purists who are undoubtably not impressed with this move. But for those like me, hopefully there are some useful pieces in here for anyone else interested in going down this rabbit hole. I’m a couple months into it at this point and will do my best to chronicle the process and provide the story from start to finish. I’ll share thoughts and ask for input, post lots of photos; if it gets to be too much, let me know. I’ve always found photos helpful when referencing build threads. I’ll also post some backstory on what I did with this car before landing on this idea.
Took long enough for someone to take a plunge in the K20 pool, here we go! Please consider going all the way to the deep end with full K20/24 righteousness.

Good luck, we are here to support you on your journey.
 

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Discussion Starter #4
that it needs much repairing is not ok. But that has nothing to do with bad Alfa mecanics, but bad work or neglect with previous owners (or, hate to say, maybe current shop also?) I do not know what it isthat breaks down , but having our spider since around 1997, it has be something outside the car... in those years: a new clutch, 2 new hoods, reconditioned rear axle , a new brake master cylinder and a set of shocks. And regular stuff (suspension bushes , brake pads,etc) during normal maintanance.. Not bad for a car build in 1980
What’s that old saying?
“90 percent of car problems happen between the drivers seat and the steering wheel.” Heaven knows that I’m probably a piece of my own frustrations, but I can certainly attest to this car having seen a lot of neglect in its life before landing at my home. We’ll see if I can muck it up a little more here :)
 

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If the goal is to spend less time wrenching and more driving, surely an engine swap is not the solution 😂 If time driving is truly the objective, seems like maybe finding a well cared for fuel injected spider would be the best route. I'd be very curious what problems you're having, from what I can tell (I'm fairly new to Alfas) most of the persistent issues are not directly engine related.

But if your goal is in fact to spend all of your time wrenching and not drive for a very long time... I will follow the story curiously please post updates as you go.
 

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Discussion Starter #6
If the goal is to spend less time wrenching and more driving, surely an engine swap is not the solution ...
Very true. I have one of those diseases where I like to build. I think the difference for me is the opportunity to fabricate and make something new rather than just repair something old. There’s really no good answer though. Like is said, I’m sure it’s a disease


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Discussion Starter #7
While not engine swap specific, some history on the project...

The seats that came with the car weren’t really my cup of tea or even very comfortable. Divotandtralee, another member on here, helped me with some more appropriate seats for the car.










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Discussion Starter #8
The car ran very rich from day one. I rebuilt the Dellortos and kept driving it for a while and then when I went to buy jets and emulsion tubes for the carbs decided that a carb swap and an AFR gauge would be more fun and easier/cheaper to tune. I went with Keihin CVK40 carbs off of a ZZR1200. I made this choice based on calculated air and fuel consumption at redline for both engines.





I took lots of measurements


Drew some templates in AutoCAD and printed them out


And then cut out plates to build an adapter manifold





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Discussion Starter #9 (Edited)
I took the engine and carb plates, measured the angle needed for the carbs to be at their proper angle, then bent some 1-3/4” tubing with my Model 3, built a goofy little wooden jig to hold the plates, and cut my intake runners to fit.











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@MarklotS, still have those Momo seats? Your "not your cup of tea" is my "really want."

Also, I am calling dibs on your 123 ignition and distributor!
 

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Discussion Starter #11
Then I bolted the carbs up to test fit them




Then built an air box and modified some fuel lines to get her back on the road













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Discussion Starter #12
@MarklotS, still have those Momo seats? Your "not your cup of tea" is my "really want."

Also, I am calling dibs on your 123 ignition and distributor!
I sold the seats when I put the new ones in. I still have the 123 and the coil though. PM me and we can see about figuring something out.


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Nice fabrication skills.

Personally when a car tires you out, as my 156v6 has, just sell it and buy something else, like a Honda S2000 ... or go motor racing if you really want to play with modifications. Motor racing is 98% work on the car for 2% satisfaction but the best thing is you can get immediate results from the playing, er, modifications
Pete
 

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Also the issue you have apparently had with the engine must be because somebody did a poor injection to carb modification, which you have solved ... mechanically these engines are really strong. The only advantage you will get from the moderner engine is the control systems, i.e. electronic fuel injection and spark control. Some have added that stuff successfully to their Alfa engines BTW ... have a look at MSierts black Spider.

Pete
 

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Interesting @MarklotS, until earlier this year I've ran YZF-R1 Mikuni carbs. Swapped this year to a set of heavily modified Keihin FCR 39 flat slides. What was your jetting like?

Your carb manifold came out cleaner than my first set, but that was me trying to TIG cast aluminum.
 

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Honestly, go for it! A k20 going full tilt 9000rpm is special. Be aware they are very tall and therefore angled in most hondas. not sure how well they fit a 105/115 type chassis with a wet sump.
 

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Discussion Starter #17
Honestly, go for it! A k20 going full tilt 9000rpm is special. Be aware they are very tall and therefore angled in most hondas. not sure how well they fit a 105/115 type chassis with a wet sump.
Thanks! It’s...tight. Like, small-hood-scoop tight :)


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Discussion Starter #18
So this is about the time that I started kicking around an engine swap for the car. The questions that were moving around my mind included:
"What's a reasonably small engine that could fit the same bay?"
"What's an engine with decent (not even crazy, but 180ish) HP available?"
"What's an engine that's not exotic and going to be a pain to find parts and support for?"
"What's an engine that won't break the bank?"

Not being interested in a V8 here eliminated the LS in a hurry and it seams these days that if you're doing an engine swap in something it's either an LS or a K. I've had absolutely zero experience with Honda car engines up to this point in life but all the reading and talking with others that I've done kept leading me to K24s and K20s.

That's where I landed; "I'll put a K-series engine in here."
The K24 is easily the better supported platform for swaps out there but with the desire to close the hood, have a high revver, and keep things on a reasonable budget I opted for a K20. The other big appeal with the K20 is the price to entry. Everyone wants the K20A2 with it's 200HP stock package...and no one wants the K20A3, the black sheep from base model RSXs that only makes 160HP. The fun comes in that you can buy an A3 all day long for ~$300 while an A2 seems to go closer to $1000. Not a show-stopper, but they're identical externally so I could start with an A3 on the cheap, build all my bobbles to make it fit, run it for a time at 160HP (or likely 140 for an older one) and see how stuff goes. If all's good, the bits and bobbles can be bolted onto an A2 or the top end internals can be swapped out to make the A3 even more fun.

So, I started looking for used K20s in my area through the usual suspects: craigslist, offerup, etc.
 

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Discussion Starter #19
I picked up a K20A3 from an ‘04 RSX from a guy off of Craigslist for $300 late one night. He said everything was in good shape.



When I got home I popped the valve cover cover...coil cover?...off and found one of the coils and plugs was missing.



Dropped a cheap fiber camera into the cylinder and found water and further issues. Lame.





He was a decent guy and took it back without a fuss.


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Discussion Starter #20 (Edited)
Went back on the search and ended up at a place that made me really appreciate my second amendment rights. Now, I'm not going to say it was a drug-house...but yeah, it was definitely a drug-house. Besides my life, I walked away with:

1) K20A3 w/ auto tranny
2) Complete engine and body harnesses
3) ECU
4) A B22 with the same
5) A k to b conversion harness
6) Air bag stuff, steering column, ignition, gauge cluster
7) And a set of wheels and tires from the Acura that most of this came from

For $400.

Sold the B22, K20 transmission, and wheels for $400 over the next month.

That’s a good start to the project in my book.










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